The University of Michigan has a new AD in David Brandon, and Rich Rodriguez and the football program will be the main story of his first year.
Brandon has an athletic department that is financially stable, yet administratively unstable. He is inheriting a football program that is under NCAA investigation, a subpar year in basketball and hockey, and the finishing touches on the new Big House.
Plus, he must get the basketball renovations on their way, too.
Just a few items on his to-do list.
Brandon, as reported on freep.com through the AP, had this to say about his most important task: "It’s critical. If you look at the annual revenues that drive this department, football is three-quarters of who we are. It’s essential for that program to be successful if our entire athletic department is going to be successful."
He understands what it takes to be a "Michigan Man," and that is important to two-thirds of the fanbase. Fans believe that Michigan is a place of dignity and respect where players come to be students first, athletes second. It's a place that doesn't take players like Demar Dorsey—which I find appalling.
Dorsey was involved in three burglaries from 2007. He was charged twice.
As I've written before, Michigan fans have clamored for change. They were sick of Lloyd Carr and his stale offense. Carr is one of the great coaches to roam the Michigan sidelines, but he didn't roam it with players who were always clean.
Michigan fans wanted that Florida offense in Ann Arbor after Carr lost to Appalachian State. They wanted that speed and athleticism to come to Schembechler Hall.
They got it.
Days into his tenure, Rodriguez was being blasted for not living up to the "Michigan Man" mantra. He wasn't fully engaged into what being at Michigan meant—which I believe is hogwash. Michigan is what it is: the greatest college football program of all time.
Rodriguez will take it back to the mountaintop—and those that jumped the shark will have no right to jump back over it.
Brandon's top job will be to appease those who are disheartened and those who are "all in." Football is the biggest entity Michigan has to offer—and they all have to be "all-in."
That's Brandon's first task—to get everyone on the same page.
That won't be easy, though, when you have the local media watching every move and dissecting what Michigan can and can't do. It will be an uphill battle.
In the end, it will be the will power of Rodriguez versus the local media? Whose voice is loudest?
That right there scares me, and I don't think Brandon will allow the media to dictate what he does. He will, however, allow the alums to voice their opinions—and he will have to make the right call.
What is that call? We don't know yet.
The alums will take their anti-Rodriguez sentiment to the media, who adore hating Rodriguez.
We have a columnist who has done wrong things, questioning a coach who may or may not have done wrong things. That columnist is Mitch Albom.
And if you listen to the pundits and anti-Rodriguez contingency, Brandon should fire him ASAP.
You have Pat Caputo on his radio show in Detroit on 97.1, wondering out loud why Michigan recruited such a "bad person" like Dorsey. He opined on how the campus is less safe with such a person there.
He also thought out loud why parents would want their kids going to a school with someone like Dorsey on its campus. Really, Pat? Did you just go there?
He says Michigan doesn't recruit such players.
Did you question Michigan State when they allowed Glenn Winston back on campus? Fair is fair, Pat.
How about when Michigan State recruited Roderick Jenrette, who was twice charged with burglary? Was Michigan State's campus unsafe, Pat? Where was your outrage at that?
It's your typical Michigan-bashing, because it's the "in" thing to do.
Well, let's look at Michigan under Carr and the players who came into trouble.
I found a list of players on mgoblog.com that got into trouble under Carr, and it reached 29. Brian Griese, Adrian Arrington, Carson Butler, Mario Manningham, Marlin Jackson, James Whitley, Kevin Grady, Will Carr, Sam Sword, Marcus Ray, Bennie Joppru, Larry Harrison, Kelly Baraka, and Shante Orr are just a few of the players who were associated with some kind of trouble under Carr.
Never did these journalists opine about what kind of person Carr was or is because he recruited such players. He was a "Michigan Man," for goodness sake—he could do no wrong.
He brought Michigan a championship in 1997. He was what was great about Michigan. The Wolverine beat writers treaded peacefully after he lost to Appalachian State and got blown out by Oregon before making a surge up the standings to get into the Capital One Bowl against Florida.
He was a nice guy, even though he never gave the media the love they sought from him. It was a love-hate relationship; Carr hated the media, and the media loved Carr for it.
Michigan fans need to understand one thing: Michigan, as you knew it, is gone. The Michigan that you salivate over is just like any other program that competes at the highest levels. Get over it. The faster you realize it, the better off you are. I know I am.
Urban Meyer at Florida had 18 players in trouble during the past year or so, but as we all know, it's OK in Florida because that's how they win.
It's not what they do at Michigan. Michigan wins with dignity, with players who have exquisite resumes on and off the field.
Sorry, guys, but that was never the case—and it won't ever be the case. Look at our neighbors to the north—no one cares what they are doing or how they run the program because they have a Carr-type coach. He gives little to the media, and the media doesn't ask many questions.
However, Michigan State recently had 14 players get in a fight in a dorm. The local media in Detroit had no interest in that story. There wasn't a six-page expose on the 14 players—and Caputo never spoke of Michigan State's campus now being "unsafe" because they were still on campus.
I'm just saying.
D'Antonio only suspended the players because they lied to him—not because they stormed a dorm and started a fight.
Coach Rodriguez needs to be quiet and because he isn't the media are all over him. Brandon needs to reel him in a bit.
Winning cures all woes, and Brandon knows that. It's not going to be easy to transition into modern-day college football. Michigan started its transition two years ago—and because it is not winning, everything is a problem.
I saw a commentary in one of the Detroit papers about how the "Victors' Rally" Rodriguez put on was not "Michigan." Why? What's wrong with rallying the troops when most fans in the area are gung-ho in getting the current coach fired?
What's wrong with Rodriguez saying the hell with those who are not "all in?"
I loved it. He is not going to back down. He is not going to walk away because the local media hate him. He is not going to let those fans who wanted Ohio State to run the score up on Michigan win.
He is going to win his way.
And those fans who call themselves "Michigan Men"—please, you make me sick to my stomach.
Brandon is one of those "Michigan Men," and he learned under Bo Schembechler, the "Ohio State Man" turned "Michigan Man." Right?
He was a Woody disciple who did exactly what Rodriguez is doing—weeding out those who don't want to be here, who don't want to fight for their positions, who don't want to put in the work.
At Michigan, now and forever, you have to work to keep your job. I know, that's a strange way of doing business, but that's how they do it now. (A hint of sarcasm here.)
Just because your a five-star recruit doesn't mean you get to start as a freshman, and just because you've been on the team for four years doesn't mean you can slack off in practice and not put the work in and then expect to start.
Brandon will work very hard to maintain the stigma that is Michigan football—the pure program that never did wrong until January 2008.
Which I find to be the biggest myth out there.
His biggest fight will be to contain what is going on at Michigan and keep it inside the walls of Schembechler Hall—as Coach Carr did all those years.
The media can dedicate 18 pages of filth they find in the garbage can at Rodriguez's home, but they can't run the program. They can't go all, "Michigan is Michigan, and they don't play dirty."
Well, they do, and they did—and they may do so in the future. That's college football. That's what college football has become. Deal with it.
Win at all costs, unless you're Michigan. They don't make mistakes in Ann Arbor. They don't allow second chances on State Street.
That's what the media would like you to think—and that's far from the truth. They will do anything to get Rodriguez fired—and so far, they are doing an incredible job of it.
Brandon must put a stop to it before the media takes over the program.